by Elise Pettyjohn
“Camp Amanda makes you feel more normal. It helps relieve your fears,” according to a camper who now serves as a counselor. Camp Amanda is a three-day uplifting experience located in the beautiful Blue Mountains.
This camp provides grieving children an opportunity to learn that they are not alone in their grief. In addition, Camp Amanda and its staff offer an encouraging environment where children feel comfortable sharing their feelings and beginning the journey through the grieving process.
Each year Camp Amanda impacts the lives of children dealing with the loss of a loved one. According to a parent of a camper, “My kids seemed more happy, like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.”
Camp Amanda is just one of the exceptional programs that Walla Walla Community Hospice offers. For a number of years, Blue Mountain Community Foundation has supported Walla Walla Community Hospice with critical ongoing financial assistance. Annual support from the Blue Mountain Community Foundation helps fund Hospice’s mission of providing compassionate care for patients nearing the end of their lives.
A fourth grade Camp Amanda attendee recently shared with a classmate attending the camp this coming year that, “It’s the greatest place, you’ll love it there!” Each year approximately thirty children ages seven to fourteen, along with thirty counselors, attend Camp Amanda.
A key factor in Camp Amanda’s success is the counselor to camper ratio, which is one to one. This ratio builds stronger relationships between the campers and their counselors along with providing a person who is always available for the child to talk to. These trained counselors offer a comfortable, friendly atmosphere to support children as they attempt to understand and accept the death of a family member while enjoying their time camping.
Some of the activities provided at this unique camp include crafts, campfire sing-a-longs, games, and swimming among other fun pastimes. In addition to the successful Camp Amanda program, Walla Walla Community Hospice offers end of life medical care for patients suffering from a variety of illnesses including AIDS, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Hospice also provides adult grief support services including counseling and workplace support groups. Hospice fills an essential need in the community by providing specialized care that focuses on the patient and their emotional, spiritual and physical needs.